Last week, I drove a car full of Interlocutors down to Lima, NY to visit Smidgens, Inc., our friendly local laser manufactory. I wanted to get some parts cut out of half-inch plywood for the Mantis 9.1 CNC mill we're building. Although the parts are designed to be easily cut by hand, I really wanted an excuse to see some big-ass lasers and to make the acquaintance of those in charge of said equipment. So off we went. Keep scrolling for pictures and some commentary.
Gary – the co-owner of Smidgens, along with his wife Rita – gave us quite an extensive tour, and answered all of our pesky questions while we gawked at the machinery. Above, you can see one of their lasers cutting crane parts out of quarter-inch steel. I was pretty surprised how quiet the whole operation was, given the amount of cutting going on. Most of the noise was from the ventilation systems that were constantly huffing smoke out to the great outdoors.
Sorry for the butt-shot, but here's an overall view of the main space. There's one more marking laser in another room off to the right, and the metal-cutting laser is to your left. They also have a bit of storage in the corner for commonly used materials.
They had three lasers like the above, and these mostly do wood and acrylic cutting and etching. I failed to shoot the 8-ish foot long laser tube, the massive power supply, and the ridiculously beefy stepper (servo?) motors driving the XY tables. So sorry. It really made the nerds go all giggity.
Bread. Dried, lasered, lacquered. It's a miracle! Rita does some fun stuff with the lasers that I'm sure their engineers hadn't anticipated.
This machine was solely for cutting thin materials or marking things at an insane speed. Instead of moving the entire workpiece or optics in an XY fashion, it has two mirrors that remain stationary and just twiddle the beam to and fro. The design you see above took about ten or fifteen seconds to cut.
And here are the parts! Time for assembly... soon enough we'll be milling circuit boards in-house at Interlock. Thanks again, Gary, for cutting our parts and taking the time to show us your lasers!